Online schools offer a level of freedom and convenience that regular schools lack. Instead of having to go to a campus at a certain time each day, you’ll be free to fit your studies in where you can. If this sounds ideal, you might be wondering about financial aid. Is it possible to get it for online colleges?
Funding Your Online Education: Your Options
If you want to attend school online but lack the money to pay for it yourself, don’t worry. There are plenty of options are available to help.
This type of aid doesn’t require repayment, so it’s a good place to start. There are many scholarship options out there, each with their own requirements. You can get a scholarship designed for students in your chosen field of study. You can apply for one based on your ethnicity, disability, or even gender identity. There are scholarships for single parents, veterans, athletes, and anyone else you can imagine.
This option for financial aid is often underutilized. It could be because many people assume they don’t qualify. You don’t have to be valedictorian to qualify for a scholarship. If you don’t look into what’s available, you might miss out on a big opportunity to fund some of your online education.
If you find a scholarship opportunity that seems too good to be true, be sure to do some research on the organization. There are resources online that can help you avoid scams, if you do a little digging. Counselors from many online schools are employed exclusively to provide more information on how to recieve the best financial aid package available for you.
Grants are another type of financial assistance that doesn’t require you to pay the money back. It’s wise to research this option before you consider taking out a student loan which you do pay back after graduation.
The Pell Grant
The Federal Pell Grant offered students up to $6,095 to put toward their education in 2019. It’s the most common form of financial assistance for U.S.-based college students. Students receive an amount based on their individual needs, the cost of their courses, and their amount of time in school.
To qualify for the Pell Grant, students must:
- Be an undergraduate or vocational student
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an online school
- Be a free citizen who isn’t currently incarcerated and has not been convicted of a sexual offense
Other factors may affect your eligibility, such as drug convictions. However, a past drug problem won’t necessarily hinder you. The federal Department of Education offers an eligibility worksheet students can use to determine how their situation may affect eligibility. Students who are ineligible base on past convictions, but are still interested in online education, check out our article on Best Degrees for folks who were formerly incarcerated.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is another grant that’s available based on the student’s financial need. Contact the online school’s financial aid center to learn more about how this award is distributed and who is eligible.
Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant
If one or both of your parents or guardians died during service in Iraq or Afghanistan, you might qualify for the Federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Students must be ineligible for the Pell Grant based on parental assistance. They also must already be registered for school at the time of their parent or guardian’s death.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
Do you dream of guiding young children from impoverished communities? If so, this may be the grant for you. TEACH is meant to support students who aim to teach elementary or secondary students in low-income areas.
To apply for any of these grants, students must need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Another resource for teachers is dedicated to online degrees for teachers.
After you check to see if you qualify for a federal grant, you can start looking into what’s offered by your state. You can check out what’s available using this handy map.
Even if you qualify for a grant or a scholarship, you still might not have enough money to cover your education. Luckily, you can always get a student loan to cover the difference. Unlike other forms of assistance, a loan must be repaid with interest.
There are a variety of loan options. The federal government offers two types.
Direct Federal Loans
This type is sometimes referred to as a Stafford Loan. Within it, there are four types of financial assistance:
- Direct consolidation loan
- Direct subsidized loan
- Direct unsubsidized loan
- Direct PLUS loan
The Direct PLUS loan is designed for parents of dependent undergrad students. The subsidized loan is available for undergraduate students. If you’re an undergrad, graduate, and professional students, you can get an unsubsidized loan. They generally offer bigger amounts to cover the financial burden of higher education. A consolidation loan allows you to combine various options into one monthly payment.
For most loans, you’ll need to enroll in school at least half time. If you drop under half time, you’ll be expected to begin paying back what you borrowed. Otherwise, you’ll be expected to begin paying six months after you graduate.
Federal Perkins Loan
This loan is available for students who can demonstrate an exceptional financial need. You won’t have to begin paying on a Perkins loan until nine months after you graduate.
Your state may have loan options available for students. Talk with your guidance counselor to learn more.
Lastly, you can always look into getting a private loan for school. Banks and credit unions offer this type of loan to their members. However, much like any other type of private loan, you’ll need decent credit to qualify. If you’re a young person starting out in life, this might not be the best choice for you.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of options you can use to pay for online school. When making a decision, always remember to look at the big picture. Are you going to school to get a decent job, or do you simply want to educate yourself? It’s wise to avoid borrowing large amounts of money without a plan for repayment. Always consider the earning potential in your field before you make a decision.
For more information about online schools, please contact us today!